Last night, CNN's Anderson Cooper spent an unprecedented two hours talking to Angelina Jolie about "Her Mission and Motherhood". The show coincided with World Refugee Day, which the United Nations designated several years ago to recognize the struggles and perseverance of refugees around the world.
The CNN coverage highlighted refugee situations around the world including the situation faced by unaccompanied minors in the United States. Anderson Cooper seemed to be surprised that children are detained in the U.S. and often have no access to legal representation: "I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that that even happens here, that...... that a kid can go through that system without legal representation." With so much to talk about, there wasn't much opportunity to discuss how pending legislation in Congress has many hidden traps that would ensnare many refugees and asylum-seekers in the United States.
The interview also revealed that Angelina Jolie gives a THIRD of her income to refugee relief and other causes. In the her interview, Angelina Jolie recounted her first visit to a refugee camp and what happened to her afterwards, "And then, suddenly, you see these people who are really fighting something, who are really surviving, who have so much pain and loss and things that you have no idea. And you just feel like, your whole life, you have just been so sheltered and so spoiled with so much... By the time I -- I got on the plane and on the way home, I -- I didn't -- I knew that I would somehow commit to doing something with these people in my life. And I knew that would be the only way to -- to settle it in myself."
Cynics like the Los Angeles Times critic Scott Collins saw the interview as a watershed moment for CNN in shedding its image as "grandpa's video wire service". In his article, Collins notes, "Some - not me, of course - might accuse Cooper of doing a 180 on real news coverage with such a celebrity interview. Jolie's bona fides as goodwill ambassador aside, is she really the most knowledgeable expert on Africa? You can say that celebrities help raise awareness of issues, but isn't that the same thing we were told 20 years ago with "We Are the World"?"
No, Mr. Collins, it is not the same thing. Considering that your own newspaper has yet to truly cover World Refugee Day or the on-going challenges of refugees here and around the world, maybe we do need an Angelina Jolie to get out the word.
Collins sums up the interview with "..., Jolie [offered] such penetrating insights into Africa's crises as: Some of what's happening there is awful. And this: We must do more."
And what exactly is wrong with asking the world to do more?